When you think of “living large,” images of fancy homes, luxurious vacations and expensive cars might pop into your head. Members of a fraud ring in Ohio may have had similar thoughts when participating in a scheme that netted millions of dollars from filing fake tax returns. According to an article published on WLWT.com, the criminals used thousands of stolen taxpayer identities to reap the benefits of the fraudulent tax refunds.
The story states that the IRS and the Secret Service investigated a number of individuals in the Cincinnati area, who allegedly purchased the identities from illegal online forums and accomplices. (This happens all the time.) During a raid at several locations, government agents seized several luxury cars, computers and tax documents. (Talk about bling.) They hit the jackpot at a storage locker that contained more than $1 million in cash and money orders. It was determined that most of the stolen money was laundered and sent to Zimbabwe.
Most of the individuals allegedly involved in the scheme were in their 20s. One was arrested after trying to cross the Canadian border with $76,000 in cash. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. He will serve 70 months in prison. A co-conspirator pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in illegal monetary transactions. He will serve 27 months in prison. Unfortunately, four alleged members of the fraud ring are considered to be fugitives, since they fled to Zimbabwe following the raid.
The investigation of this case was part of the Department of Justice’s directive, Stolen Identity Refund Fraud (SIRF), which fights tax refund fraud of this magnitude. These criminals were caught in the act and will be punished for their dishonest behavior. Here’s hoping these fraudsters learn something while serving time and potentially making license plates for fancy cars like the ones they owned while “living large.”